Political – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 16 Jul 2020 18:15:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg Political – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 County commissioners discuss face coverings http://www.pagosasun.com/county-commissioners-discuss-face-coverings/ Mon, 20 Jul 2020 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=207476 By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

At their work session on Tuesday, two of the Archuleta County commissioners weighed in on what Commissioner Ron Maez called a “hot topic”: whether the government should mandate wearing face coverings in public.

Maez explained a commissioner from another part of the state asked if Archuleta County might write a letter of support for a statewide face covering mandate in public and then generally discussed the issue with Commissioner Alvin Schaaf.

“What I look at is resources if this starts occurring. If the mandate’s put into play, who’s gonna enforce it? How are they gonna enforce it and with what money are they gonna get to enforce it?” Maez said, adding, “I know it’s threatening — it’s life-threatening, but it’s not an immediate life-threatening situation and it puts another call load onto the 911 services … The county really doesn’t have the resources to expand the enforcement of this.”

“I just don’t understand at what point it became government’s responsibility to tell people what to do when it comes to health and safety,” Schaaf said. “We’re adults, most of us, and the children have parents who can make decisions for them. I’d like to be able to make the choice, whether or not [inaudible] that I wanna wear a mask. Personally, I can’t because of health reasons, but I should have a choice, and I shouldn’t have to worry about my neighbor calling in and say, ‘Hey this guy’s not wearing a mask, he’s not social distancing.’ This is still a free society …”

“Bottom line is it’s a matter of respect,” Maez said. “If we respect everybody else’s choice, we may not like the choices they choose, but we should definitely have respect for how they choose to safeguard themselves. Businesses have the right to mandate a face covering within their business. It’s up to that business to make that decision and I’ll support that. But until the people come together and we all learn that we gotta respect everyone else’s opinion — we may not like it and we can voice our opinion on it, but we gotta respect it, no matter what.”

Commissioner Steve Wadley was absent for the work session on Tuesday, but was the first commissioner to bring up the face covering issue at the commissioners’ work session a week prior on July 7.

“I’m gettin’ a lot of questions about masks,” said Wadley. “I think we ought to talk about it at some point. I know that some people are adamantly opposed to it and some people are adamantly in favor of it. It’s gonna be one of those where you have to make half the people mad and the other half real mad. I know the town’s taken it up, and I think at some point we should take it up also.”

Later that night, the Pagosa Springs Town Council considered a resolution requesting wearing of face covering in public within town limits, and Maez noted at the July 7 work session that he wanted to take his cues from them.

“I’d rather see what their decision is, and if their decision is for education and support, you know, the signage and gettin’ the message out there, I think the county ought to help them with that,” Maez said. “But maybe let’s wait and see what the town renders tonight and then see whether or not the commissioners want to move in with that or not.”

The town council approved a resolution that night requesting residents and visitors to wear face coverings when in town limits.

 

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Public Meetings http://www.pagosasun.com/public-meetings-230/ Thu, 16 Jul 2020 21:00:36 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=207469 The following meetings are subject to change.

Tuesday, July 21

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting. 1:30 p.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

C-STAT Distinguished Performance Award by state of Colorado to Archuleta County Department of Human Services team. 3 p.m. Archuleta County administration building, commissioners’ meeting room, 398 Lewis St. and via Google online. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Thursday, July 23

Pagosa Springs Urban Renewal Authority meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Pagosa Springs Town Council meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Tuesday, July 28

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Upper San Juan Health Service District regular board meeting. 5:30 p.m. Join Zoom meeting: https://zoom.us/j/96904926293, meeting ID: 969 0492 6293 Phone in using: (346) 248-7799. 

Friday, July 31

Pagosa Springs Town Council work session. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Monday, Aug. 3

Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors regular meeting. 5 p.m., 7 Parelli Way.

Tuesday, Aug. 11

Archuleta School District Board of Education meeting. 6 p.m., virtual meeting. See the agenda on the district website for participation information.

Thursday, Aug. 13

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District regular meeting. 5 p.m., 100 Lyn Ave.

Public meeting information should be sent to editor@pagosasun.com with “Public Meeting” in the subject line. The deadline is noon Monday each week prior to publication for that week’s issue.

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Colorado Legislative Lowdown virtual event planned http://www.pagosasun.com/colorado-legislative-lowdown-virtual-event-planned/ Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:34:00 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=207097 By Janice Sheftel
League of Women Voters
of La Plata County

In this election year, it is especially important for citizens to keep abreast of the actions of the Colorado General Assembly. 

One opportunity for voters to learn about the performance of the most recent Colorado legislative session is through the virtual Colorado Legislative Lowdown, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of La Plata County. 

The 1.5-hour session with Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Barbara McLachlan, to be held on July 11, at 10 a.m., will focus on the highlights of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly. 

To participate or submit questions, find webinar information at www.lwvlaplata.org or www.facebook.com/lwvlaplata.org. 

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Public Meetings http://www.pagosasun.com/public-meetings-229/ Thu, 09 Jul 2020 21:00:17 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=207099 The following meetings are subject to change.

Monday, July 13

Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors work session and regular meeting. 5 p.m. work session, 6 p.m. regular meeting, 7 Parelli Way.

Tuesday, July 14

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Archuleta School District Board of Education meeting. 5:30 p.m., virtual meeting. See the agenda on the district website for participation information.

Town of Pagosa Springs Planning Commission. 5:30 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Pagosa Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting and Board of Trustees of the Pagosa Fire Protection District Firemen’s Pension Fund regular meeting. 6:30 p.m., Administrative Building, Training Room, 165 N. Pagosa Blvd.

Wednesday, July 15

Archuleta County Republican Central Committee meeting. Noon, Pagosa Brewing, 118 N. Pagosa Blvd. Subject to cancellation due to COVID-19.

Upper San Juan Library District board meeting. 4 p.m., Zoom meeting. Join us at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/79928556999.

Tuesday, July 21

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting. 1:30 p.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

C-STAT Distinguished Performance Award by state of Colorado to Archuleta County Department of Human Services team. 3 p.m. Archuleta County administration building, commissioners’ meeting room, 398 Lewis St. and via Google online. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Public meeting information should be sent to editor@pagosasun.com with “Public Meeting” in the subject line. The deadline is noon Monday each week prior to publication for that week’s issue.

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Local officials oppose town ballot question http://www.pagosasun.com/local-officials-oppose-town-ballot-question/ Thu, 09 Jul 2020 10:57:04 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=207006 By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

County and town officials publicly opposed a town ballot initiative pertaining to the local urban renewal authority (URA) at the county commissioners’ work session on Tuesday morning.

Archuleta County commissioners Steve Wadley and Ron Maez, the county assessor and the mayor of Pagosa Springs all came out against the initiative during the discussion.

Commissioner Alvin Schaaf explained he opposes the ballot initiative in a follow-up phone call.

Pagosa Springs Mayor Don Volger paraphrased the language of Ballot Question A, set to be voted on by town residents during a special election on July 14, at the work session.

“What it reads is that you’re voting for a petition that says that if the development is a million dollars or more than it has to go to a vote of the people,” Volger said. “If it goes through a vote of the people, that’s gonna be additional time, additional cost, additional effort and it’s gonna be very, very cumbersome. Personally, I don’t know how the URA can function at all if the ballot language is passed. So, if you support reasonable development, vote against this ballot language.”

URAs, according to a Colorado Municipal League publication on the topic, are “independent single-purpose statutory bodies ‘corporate and politic’ authorized to carry out urban renewal projects and regional tourism projects under the Colorado Urban Renewal Law …”

URAs and urban renewal laws “allow municipal governments to engage in urban renewal projects as a means to improve blighted areas,” according to a Colorado Legislative Council Staff issue brief by Katie Ruedebusch.

A project approved by the local URA could be funded through tax-increment financing (TIF). TIF financing is a funding mechanism that takes the new taxes generated by the improvements of a development in a URA project to pay for the public infrastructure necessary for that project.

Ballot Question A reads, “Shall the Town of Pagosa Springs Home Rule Charter be amended, as set forth in Ordinance No. 932, by the addition of the following provision: ‘Any proposal by the Town Council or by the Pagosa Springs Urban Renewal Authority to use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) must first be approved by the Town electors whenever the total TIF revenues are expected to exceed $1 million ($1,000,000) over the life of the project.’?”

Archuleta County Assessor Natalie Woodruff, who serves as the county representative on the URA commission, suggested if the measure is passed it could hamper the board’s ability to do its job.

“The urban renewal authority is already formed, that’s already in place. What’s happening with the ballot is something that’s going to restrict the ability of the URA to do its job, and not only could it restrict the URA from doing its job, but it could result in lawsuits that the town then would have to foot the bill for,” Woodruff said, adding, “I understand where the people are coming from because basically what you’re saying then is you don’t trust the people you’ve elected to do the job you’ve elected them to do.”

“The bottom line is that if we want reasonable development in town, this is a great tool to use to encourage and support developers,” Volger said, adding, “If people would like to see reasonable development that is a cooperative effort between public and private, between taxing entities and developers — we have a vehicle through the URA that will bring all those people together to put together a project that meets some of the plans that we’ve had forever.”

Wadley and Woodruff explained there are misconceptions about the URA and the ballot initiative.

“It doesn’t physically take any money out of somebody’s pocket that was already there,” Woodruff said. “It just is a method by which a developer can be repaid for his investment costs.” 

“People’s objection to this is that they just don’t understand it. If they spend five minutes lookin’ at it, they realize these people are fronting their own money and only use the increased value of the property tax to get paid back what they already paid; and if the money doesn’t come in, they’re the ones that are out,” Wadley said. “This is something that benefits the community, that the private sector is paying for and when I hear about corporate welfare, it is not true. These business people are putting their money where their mouth is and hoping to get paid back through the increase of the property tax and it’s their money. We’re not putting up the money. So quit just saying ‘no’ to everything and look at a great opportunity and embrace it. If you don’t understand it, spend some time until you do, but you just don’t have to be against anything that somebody else is doin’. This is a great idea for this community.”

Maez encouraged locals to do their own research about the ballot initiative instead of going by, “Oh, so and so said this.”

“It’s gonna take outside money to make this community great, it really will,” Wadley said, adding, “Government doesn’t have the money to do this. We’re never gonna have it. We have an opportunity here and I hate to see it go by the wayside ‘cause there’s not many more of them coming in our lifetimes.”

Ballots have already been mailed for the special election on July 14, for which Ballot Question A will be the only item on the ballot.

The election is an independent mail ballot election, with ballots mailed to eligible electors of the Town of Pagosa Springs on June 22.

The location to drop off ballots or receive replacement ballots is Town Hall, located at 551 Hot Springs Blvd. Town Hall is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, July 14.

Voters must be 18 years of age as of the day of election, be a citizen of the United States of America, be registered with the town clerk or Archuleta County clerk, not be in prison and have legally resided within Colorado and within the town limits for at least 22 days immediately preceding the election.

There will be no election precinct or polling place for the election and all ballots shall be returned to the election official’s office at Town Hall.

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Legislature: Bills passed as legislative sessions winds down http://www.pagosasun.com/legislature-bills-passed-as-legislative-sessions-winds-down/ Fri, 19 Jun 2020 11:00:02 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205970 By Representative McLachlan
Special to the SUN

As we surge into the final week of the 2020 legislative session, we encounter roadblocks: cutting 25 percent of our budget, killing dozens of bills we had worked years to craft, debating, more debating, riots, COVID-19 and passing legislation to use our federal grants to address pandemic issues.

It isn’t easy.

Through all this, though, I am proud to have sponsored and passed several bills just this week with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate:

• To help support a stronger future workforce, I sponsored House Bill 20-1002, College Credit for Work Experience, with Rep. Mark Baisley and Sens. Rachel Zenzinger and Tammy Story. It gives employees the opportunity to earn college credit for their work experience. Many people who are looking for a new job or want to pursue a college degree may now earn college credit for their years of working. The bill also allows students to test out of college courses and earn the credit without tuition.

• Along those same lines is Senate Bill 20-009, Expand Adult Education Grant Programs, with Rep. Marc Catlin and Sens. Rachel Zenzinger and Bob Rankin. This bill expands the opportunity for more people to attend Adult Education programs to earn their GED, which will give students tools to pursue better jobs, possibly getting away from government assistance, contribute to their community, and raise children who understand the value of education. 

• Saving about $600,000 a year, House Bill 20-1135, Replace High School Social Studies Assessment, removes the high school social studies assessment tests. I ran this bill with Rep. Perry Buck and Sens. Nancy Todd and Paul Lundeen. This test is given every three years to random students and the data was not useful enough to instruct teachers’ plans. Many testified that social studies tests should be essays, where students learn from history, not standardized, multiple-choice questions.

• To encourage more teachers to join the profession, I sponsored Senate Bill 20-158, Professional Training for Teachers, with Rep. Jim Wilson and Sen. Nancy Todd. It opens up more opportunities for teacher licensure by expanding access to alternative licensing programs and loan forgiveness programs, and specifies how those payments can be classified. 

• To help District 59 rebound from the pandemic crisis, I sponsored Senate Bill 20-002, Rural Development Grant Program Creation, with Rep. Bri Buentello and Sens. Kerry Donavon and Don Coram. The REDI (Rural Economic Development Initiative) program funds grants for projects in rural communities that create new jobs through a new or existing employer or start projects that create diversity and resiliency in the local economies. The money will be given to a local government, which serves as the grant administrator. 

• Another bill to expand economic development in Southwest Colorado is Senate Bill 20-197, Aligning State and Federal Law on Hemp, which I ran with Rep. Marc Catlin and Sens. Steve Fenberg and Vicki Marble. This bill aligns state statutes with the federal statutes established in the 2018 Farm Bill. Colorado is leading the way in industrial hemp cultivation, processing and sale, and this bill will encourage the industry to grow.

• Finally, communities will now be able to use the surplus military vehicles they received from the federal government to aid in firefighting efforts. I sponsored Senate Bill 20-056, Surplus Military Vehicles on the Highway, with Rep. Perry Will and Sen. Crowder to allow these vehicles on the highway if they will be used for wildfire control. 

 I will continue to listen to the needs of my southwest Colorado constituents as we finish this most unusual legislative season, and I look forward to doing more next year.

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Public Meetings http://www.pagosasun.com/public-meetings-226/ Thu, 11 Jun 2020 21:00:35 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205529 The following meetings are subject to change.

Thursday, June 11

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District regular meeting. 5 p.m., 100 Lyn Ave.

Sunday, June 14

Flag Day Ceremony. 3 p.m., downtown, courthouse parking lot (the Moity lot to the west of the courthouse).

Tuesday, June 16

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Dispatch Executive Management Board work session. 9:30 a.m., Pagosa Fire Protection District, Station 1 training room, 191 N. Pagosa Blvd., or join Zoom meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7186713647?pwd=a3BabWNrd1BIazgwRlphLzhrWkQ1QT09, meeting ID: 718 671 3647, password: 661585.

Tour of new detention center and future courthouse construction site, followed by lunch. 10:30 a.m., 125 Harman Park Drive.

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting. 1:30 p.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Wednesday, June 17

Archuleta County Republican Central Committee meeting. Noon, Pagosa Brewing, 118 N. Pagosa Blvd. Subject to cancellation due to COVID-19.

Upper San Juan Library District board meeting. 4 p.m. via Zoom. Join us at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/79928556999. 

Thursday, June 18

Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors special meeting. 5 p.m, 7 Parelli Way.

Pagosa Springs Town Council meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Archuleta School District Board of Education special meeting. 5:30 p.m., virtual meeting. See the agenda on the district website for participation information.

Tuesday, June 23

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Town Planning Commission, Board of Adjustments and Design Review Board. 4:30 p.m. work session, 5:30 p.m. meeting. See town website for participation information.

Upper San Juan Health Service District regular board meeting. 5:30 p.m. Join Zoom meeting: https://zoom.us/j/96904926293, meeting ID: 969 0492 6293. Phone in using (346) 248-7799. 

Wednesday, June 24

Archuleta County Planning Commission regular meeting. 6 p.m., Archuleta County administration building, commissioners’ meeting room, 398 Lewis St. and via Zoom online. Subject to cancellation due to COVID-19.

Public meeting information should be sent to editor@pagosasun.com with “Public Meeting” in the subject line. The deadline is noon Monday each week prior to publication for that week’s issue.

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Legislature: ‘A riot is the language of the unheard’ http://www.pagosasun.com/legislature-a-riot-is-the-language-of-the-unheard/ Thu, 04 Jun 2020 21:00:39 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205008 By Representative McLachlan

My column this week was going to review the work we were doing at the Capitol as we rejoined with other legislators after so many weeks of working at home. But, instead, it is about my heart.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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Public Meetings http://www.pagosasun.com/public-meetings-225/ Thu, 04 Jun 2020 21:00:33 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205012 The following meetings are subject to change.

Thursday, June 4

Dispatch Executive Management board. 9:30 a.m. Join Zoom virtual meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7186713647, meeting ID: 718 671 3647.

Town of Pagosa Springs Combined Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. 5:30 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Monday, June 8

Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors meeting. 5 p.m., visit https://pagosapeakopenschool.org prior to meeting for more information and login information.

Tuesday, June 9

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Archuleta County Republican Women’s meeting. Noon, Boss Hogg’s, 157 Navajo Trail Drive. Subject to cancellation due to COVID-19.

Archuleta School District Board of Education work session and regular meeting. 5 p.m. work session, 6 p.m. regular meeting, virtual meeting. See the agenda on the district website for participation information.

Pagosa Fire Protection District Board of Directors regular meeting. 6:30 p.m., Station 1, Training Room, 191 N. Pagosa Blvd.

Wednesday, June 10

Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation meeting. 5:30 p.m., visit www.pagosaspringscdc.org for link to virtual meeting.

Thursday, June 11

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District regular meeting. 5 p.m., 100 Lyn Ave.

Tuesday, June 16

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting. 1:30 p.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Wednesday, June 17

Archuleta County Republican Central Committee meeting. Noon, Pagosa Brewing, 118 N. Pagosa Blvd. Subject to cancellation due to COVID-19.

Thursday, June 18

Pagosa Springs Town Council meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Archuleta School District Board of Education special meeting. 5:30 p.m., virtual meeting. See the agenda on the district website for participation information.

Tuesday, June 23

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Upper San Juan Health Service District regular board meeting. 5:30 p.m. Join Zoom meeting: https://zoom.us/j/96904926293, meeting ID: 969 0492 6293. Phone in using (346) 248-7799. 

Wednesday, June 24

Archuleta County Planning Commission regular meeting. 6 p.m., Archuleta County administration building, commissioners’ meeting room, 398 Lewis St. and via Zoom online. Subject to cancellation due to COVID-19.

Tuesday, June 30

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Public meeting information should be sent to editor@pagosasun.com with “Public Meeting” in the subject line. The deadline is noon Monday each week prior to publication for that week’s issue.

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Legislature: Legislators prepared to make tough budget decisions http://www.pagosasun.com/legislature-legislators-prepared-to-make-tough-budget-decisions/ Wed, 20 May 2020 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=203586 By Representative McLachlan
Special to the SUN
Colorado’s general fund is taking a pounding during the pandemic. Unless Washington steps in with more aid to state and local governments, legislators are facing the challenge of cutting potentially up to $3 billion from our $12.4 billion general fund budget, affecting K-12 education, health care, higher education and core services.

Colorado’s budget must be balanced. About 40 percent of it is difficult to cut because it covers corrections, federally mandated programs, health care and other critical public safety services. The federal CARES money we’ve received cannot be used for ongoing budget items, like K-12 funding; it is only for COVID-19-related expenses spent during a limited time period. 

So, during this time when most people believe legislators are lounging at home, we have been working hard. Lawmakers have been busy helping constituents and preparing for when we return. We are listening to constituents, Chamber of Commerce representatives and county public health departments. We are holding town halls, examining budgets, making phone calls and advocating for our constituents. We return to Denver May 26 to make the tough decisions together.

We want a budget addressing the needs of the hardworking Coloradans affected by this unnerving pandemic. 

The nonpartisan state budget staff made suggestions as to how we can start balancing the budget by finding the $3 billion in cuts we need, and sent us lists of bills, pilot programs, grants, cash funds and established programs we can adjust. Their cuts were about a third of what we may ultimately need. 

Every person, department and segment of society will feel the cuts we must make. With K-12 education holding 36 percent of the budget, it will be nearly impossible to spare our schools entirely. As chair of the Education Committee, I have been searching for every dollar, trying to protect as much funding as we can for our school districts. Our initiatives helping rural teachers stay with their schools, repay their loans and connect with other teachers are all on the table for potential cuts.

Higher education, with 9 percent of the budget, will likely see a drop in attendance and, therefore, money, as well as less help from the state. Schools are recovering from refunding students for their fees, room and board, plus buying equipment for online learning. Most schools had already absorbed massive cutbacks before COVID-19 hit; they do not have much more to give.

The state may also find savings in the Colorado Tourism Bureau’s budget. Tourism creates so many jobs in most of District 59, making reductions to this office a painful and potentially short-sided proposition. I am hopeful we can still set aside some funding to promote economic development. 

We may be losing funding for seniors on Medicaid who need dental care, law enforcement, health clinics, road maintenance, homeless veterans and the mental health care we will certainly need after the job losses so many are enduring. It is sadly the people with the least who are often hurt the most during a crisis.

The federal government has given money to the state and the largest five counties in Colorado, but did not specifically direct money to our smaller counties and governments. I join the many lawmakers who are committed to providing some of the remaining federal funding to smaller counties. That money would still be limited to specific COVID-19 expenses; we can’t use it to complete construction projects, open the restaurants and schools necessary to keep our farmers in business or protect funding for colleges and universities.

What does this all mean? Nothing pretty. We’re experiencing a considerably worse dive than the Great Recession of 2008. Every family will have access to fewer resources. Every state department will be hit. Hard. Every local government service may be diminished. 

We need to continue to help each other, giving what we can. We need to have empathy for those who have little, and praise for those who help them. The Colorado Legislature is facing the worst financial catastrophe ever with focus and compassion. We are going to prioritize education, health and safety as we work to protect our most vulnerable and ease how painful this budget may be.

 

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